Education

Tipping Your Budtender – Yes or No?

Now that marijuana legalization has taken hold in more parts of the United States, people are showing up to cannabis dispensaries in droves to see what it’s like to purchase legal weed. Sure, there is a novelty factor to it for some, while others are stepping inside these establishments destined to become regular patrons. 

At the front of the house are budtenders. These folks act in several different capacities, assisting customers in finding the best possible strain, showing them new products and answering questions to help them walk away with the best possible experience. It is important work, especially when it comes to dealing with a new customer whose only experience with marijuana was that one time back in college when they took a hit off a bong. These people need to be guided through the latest developments on the cannabis scene and the budtender is a big part of the process.

One of the things a new customer might notice while browsing the display cases in a dispensary is the presence of tip jars. This trend started to take shape around a decade ago when medical marijuana was first beginning to build momentum across the country. But now they seem to be turning up more in both the medical and recreational sectors. The idea, as with any situation where a tip jar is present, is to give the budtender an opportunity to earn additional income. It is also an incentivizing measure. If a budtender believes he or she can earn an extra $50 or more each day by simply providing superb customer service, chances are they will come to work ready to make it rain.  

Why Are Marijuana Retailers Struggling To Keep Budtenders?
Photo by Heath Korvola/Getty Images

Still, some people take issue with tip jars becoming more commonplace in dispensary life. Some feel that while a budtender might deserve and extra $10 or so for helping them identify a strain most effective in treating their specific health condition, others think it is flat out BS that they must cough up extra cheddar just because one sold them a package of edibles. And while tipping is always optional, many argue that some budtenders act as though they are entitled to a tip for spending a few minutes with a customer. 

So what is the right thing to do? Should we tip our budtenders, or simply treat them the same way we do our liquor store clerks? After all, the people who sell us beer do not get tipped out just for telling us where they keep the Lagunitas.

The answer should be simple, but it is actually a bit tricky.

Photo by Heath Korvola / Getty Images

For starters, what exactly is a budtender’s job? According to the California-based employment agency Vangst, it is to provide “excellent customer service to all patients and customers in medical and recreational dispensaries. Uses point-of-sale system and other technology to ensure all cannabis product sales are properly tracked. Provides information to customers on product choices, consumption methods, compliance, and safety. Remains up to date on all cannabis regulations to ensure compliance within the dispensary.”

No doubt, there is a lot of responsibility involved with being an exceptional budtender, which is the reason that these people are paid an above-average salary right out of the gate. Budtenders often start out making around $16 per hour. These are not excellent wages, but they are significantly higher than if these people were to punch a clock at a fast food joint, where employees are not compensated with tips. It is also more money than what the average liquor store clerk earns. And as we established earlier in this article, they don’t get tips either. But then again, society has no qualms whatsoever about tipping bartenders a buck or two for simply popping the top on a beer and setting in front of them. So, help us, please, do we tip budtenders or not? 

Listen, don’t feel obligated to leave a tip just because a dispensary has scattered jars all around. However, if a budtender is friendly, helpful and just makes your dispensary experience a pleasant one, by all means, don’t be afraid to leave them a few extra bucks. Yet, if all a budtender does is ring up a package of edibles or pre-rolls, a tip isn’t exactly necessary. These products are already expensive enough with all of the additional taxes for people to be required to pay more just because an employee punched a few buttons on a cash register. But, here’s the thing, good people who do good work and, above all, help you in ways that could not have been achieved without them, are always deserving of more. It is a classy move to offer a gratuity for exceptional service. 

Courtesy of TheFrenchToast

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